The Connecticut Supreme Court recently ruled in Tomick v. United Parcel Service, Inc., et al. that the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA) does not allow for an award of punitive damages. This decision clarifies the scope of damages that may be recovered by an employee who is successful in bringing employment discrimination claims.
In Tomick v. United Parcel Service, Inc., et al., the plaintiff worked for the United Parcel Service ("UPS") as a package driver. According to UPS, the plaintiff was terminated for workplace violence. The plaintiff filed a complaint alleging he was terminated for disability discrimination under CFEPA. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him $500,000 for punitive damages. The trial court set aside the jury's punitive damages award on the ground that punitive damages are not authorized under CFEPA and the Appellate Court affirmed this decision. The plaintiff then appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court agreed with the Appellate Court and based its decision upon language of the CFEPA, which provides that a court may award "relief which it deems appropriate including, but not limited to, temporary or permanent injunctive relief, attorney's fees and court costs". The Supreme Court noted that an award of punitive damages is an "extraordinary remedy" available only when the legislature expressly provides for such damages.